Open Source History Why Did Linux Succeed One of the most puzzling questions about the history of free and open source is this Why did Linux succeed so spectacularly, whereas similar attempts to build a free or open source, Unix like operating system kernel met with considerably less success I dont know the answer to that question. But I have rounded up some theories, which Id like to lay out here. First, though, let me make clear what I mean when I write that Linux was a great success. I am defining it in opposition primarily to the variety of other Unix like operating system kernels, some of them open and some not, that proliferated around the time Linux was born. GNU HURD, the free as in freedom kernel whose development began in May 1. Others include Unices that most people today have never heard of, such as various derivatives of the Unix variant developed at the University of California at Berkeley, BSD Xenix, Microsofts take on Unix academic Unix clones including Minix and the original Unix developed under the auspices of AT T, which was vitally important in academic and commercial computing circles during earlier decades, but virtually disappeared from the scene by the 1. Id also like to make clear that Im writing here about kernels, not complete operating systems. To a great extent, the Linux kernel owes its success to the GNU project as a whole, which produced the crucial tools, including compilers, a debugger and a BASH shell implementation, that are necessary to build a Unix like operating system. Directory of hundreds of tools for monitoring and analyzing network traffic. But GNU developers never created a viable version of the the HURD kernel although they are still trying. Instead, Linux ended up as the kernel that glued the rest of the GNU pieces together, even though that had never been in the GNU plans. So its worth asking why Linux, a kernel launched by Linus Torvalds, an obscure programmer in Finland, in 1. HURDendured and thrived within a niche where so many other Unix like kernels, many of which enjoyed strong commercial backing and association with the leading Unix hackers of the day, failed to take off. To that end, here are a few theories pertaining to that question that Ive come across as Ive researched the history of the free and open source software worlds, along with the respective strengths and weaknesses of these various explanations. Linux Adopted a Decentralized Development Approach. This is the argument that comes out of Eric S. Raymonds essay, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, and related works, which make the case that software develops best when a large number of contributors collaborate continuously within a relatively decentralized organizational structure. That was generally true of Linux, in contrast to, for instance, GNU HURD, which took a more centrally directed approach to code developmentand, as a result, had been evidently failing to build a complete operating system for a decade, in Raymonds view. To an extent, this explanation makes sense, but it has some significant flaws. For one, Torvalds arguably assumed a more authoritative role in directing Linux code developmentdeciding which contributions to include and rejectthan Raymond and others have wanted to recognize. Best Virtualization Software For Freebsd Vs Linux' title='Best Virtualization Software For Freebsd Vs Linux' />Why did Linux, the Unixlike operating system kernel started by Linus Torvalds in 1991 that became central to the open source world, succeed where so many similar. A list of eleven opensource network simulators that run on Linux or FreeBSD systems, and use opensource router software. For another, this reasoning does not explain why GNU succeeded in producing so much software besides a working kernel. If only decentralized development works well in the freeopen source software world, then all of GNUs programming efforts should have been a bustwhich they most certainly were not. Linux is Pragmatic GNU is Ideological. Glory Roman Empire Full Game. Personally, I find this explanationwhich supposes that Linux grew so rapidly because its founder was a pragmatist who initially wrote the kernel just to be able to run a tailored Unix OS on his computer at home, not as part of a crusade to change the world through free software, as the GNU project aimed to dothe most compelling. Still, it has some weaknesses that make it less than completely satisfying. In particular, while Torvalds himself adopted pragmatic principles, not all members of the community that coalesced around his project, then or today, have done the same. Yet, Linux has succeeded all the same. Moreover, if pragmatism was the key to Linuxs endurance, then why, again, was GNU successful in building so many other tools besides a kernel If having strong political beliefs about software prevents you from pursuing successful projects, GNU should have been an outright failure, not an endeavor that produced a number of software packages that remain foundational to the IT world today. Last but not least, many of the other Unix variants of the late 1. BSD off shoots, were the products of pragmatism. Their developers aimed to build Unix variants that could be more freely shared than those restricted by expensive commercial licenses, but they were not deeply ideological about programming or sharing code. Neither was Torvalds, and it is therefore difficult to explain Linuxs success, and the failure of other Unix projects, in terms of ideological zeal. Operating System Design. There are technical differences between Linux and some other Unix variants that are important to keep in mind when considering the success of Linux. Verizon taps into open source, white box fervor with new CPE offering Verizon this week said it would begin offering x86based servers with OpenStack software aimed. VMware ESXi formerly ESX is an enterpriseclass, type1 hypervisor developed by VMware for deploying and serving virtual computers. As a type1 hypervisor, ESXi is. Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU project, pointed to these in explaining, in an email to me, why HURD development had lagged It is true that the GNU Hurd is not a practical success. Part of the reason is that its basic design made it somewhat of a research project. I chose that design thinking it was a shortcut to get a working kernel in a hurry. Linux is also different from other Unix variants in the sense that Torvalds wrote all of the Linux code himself. Having a Unix of his own, free of other peoples code, was one of his stated intentions when he first announced Linux in August 1. This characteristic sets Linux apart from most of the other Unix variants that existed at that time, which derived their code bases from either AT T Unix or Berkeleys BSD. Im not a computer scientist, so Im not qualified to decide whether the Linux code was simply superior to that of the other Unices, explaining why Linux succeeded. But thats an argument someone might makealthough it does not account for the disparity in culture and personnel between Linux and other Unix kernels, which, to me, seem more important than code in understanding Linuxs success. The Community Put Its Support Behind Linux. Stallman also wrote that mainly the reason for Linuxs success was that Torvalds made Linux free software, and since then more of the communitys effort has gone into Linux than into the Hurd. Thats not exactly a complete explanation for Linuxs trajectory, since it does not account for why the community of free software developers followed Torvalds instead of HURD or another Unix. But it nonetheless highlights this shift as a large part of how Linux prevailed. A fuller account of the free software communitys decision to endorse Linux would have to explain why developers did so even though, at first, Linux was a very obscure projectmuch more so, by any measure, than some of the other attempts at the time to create a freer Unix, such as NET BSD and 3. BSDas well as one whose affinity with the goals of the free software movement was not at first clear. Originally, Torvalds released Linux under a license that simply prevented its commercial use. It was considerably later that he switched to the GNU General Public License, which protects the openness of source code.